By Mysti Willmon
Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit healthcare program, is constantly criticized by politicians and citizens alike. A majority of the objections are linked to the organization’s involvement with abortions.
Last week the Trump administration has launched the next attack on Planned Parenthood: a proposed rule to the Title X family planning program. Title X provides federal funding for Planned Parenthood and many other health care clinics.The new rule would pull funding from programs that conduct abortions or refer patients to places offering abortions.
If this is put in place, federal funding for health care clinics across the nation, including Planned Parenthood, would be lost. Pulling funding is a pointless endeavor that will restrict many women and families from receiving the care they need and cannot pay for.
The current administration, as well as those who support this rule, need to look at the actual facts instead of getting lost in the hyped-up conservative slogans.
First of all, abortions are not the only thing Planned Parenthood does. Many of those who strongly advocate against Planned Parenthood believe the only, or at least the most common, service they offer is abortion. However, that is far from the truth.
"Taking away that money wouldn’t stop abortions. Instead, it would mean fewer cancer screenings, contraceptives, treatments and many other critical services available for individuals and low-income families who need them."
Abortions made up only 3 percent of the 9,537,532 services the clinics conducted from October 2015 to September 2016, according to Planned Parenthood’s 2016-2017 Annual Report. Comparatively, 47 percent of services were for sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing and treatment and 28 percent were for birth control.
Abortions are one of the least common services Planned Parenthood does, yet it is the one most frequently mentioned by its opponents.
Title X is an integral part of funding for Planned Parenthood and other clinics. Taking away that money wouldn’t stop abortions. Instead, it would mean fewer cancer screenings, contraceptives, treatments and many other critical services available for individuals and low-income families who need them.
According to a press release from the White House, the new rules for Title X are to “ensure that federal funds are not used to fund the abortion industry.”
However, Title X funds are already prohibited from being used to pay for anything relating to abortions. It is already ensured that Title X funds are not used for abortions, so why take away these needed dollars for other treatments?
Cutting funding from clinics in the name of anti-abortion when they don’t use those funds to pay for or refer patients for abortion will not benefit anyone, even pro-life advocates. Restricting funding to Title X will effectively cut off all low-income families from receiving potentially life-saving care while adding no benefits to anyone else in the country.
Title X funding is critical for student health care and activities as well. In the 2016-17 fiscal year, 50 Planned Parenthood Generation Action chapters opened on college campuses, over 156,000 young people joined the Planned Parenthood network and over 750 young activists participated in training through Planned Parenthood’s Youth Power Summits to become leaders in their community, their annual report states.
Western has its own Planned Parenthood Generation chapter that is active on campus. They host many events for students to have fun and learn more about important issues - more than just Planned Parenthood. The club not only hosts an annual condom fashion show, but they also fundraise by running erotic bake sales featuring cookies in the shape of breasts, butts and underwear. One club meeting this year was a presentation by Bellingham adult shop Lovers about sex toys. Their events focus not only on sexual education, but also ecofeminism, body positivity, discrimination and intersectionality.
These Planned Parenthood chapters are more than just a gathering place for pro-choice students. They provide education and discussion on so many other important topics of concern and help people feel comfortable with themselves.
"What restricting this funding will do is force women, families and youth who need treatment or health care to either go into debt or avoid treatment altogether."
The Student Health Center on campus provides many of the services Planned Parenthood does, excluding abortions or breast cancer screenings. Sometimes they will refer students off campus for medical care because of the time needed for their care or because of the sheer amount of students who go to the health center. However, because it is funded by student fees, Title X will not affect it.
Although, I know from experience that unlike Planned Parenthood, the health center does not cover everything for free. Many tests, appointments and medications require out-of-pocket money or active insurance, a luxury some students do not have access to. Many students and college-aged individuals, including a few I know, utilize Planned Parenthood instead of the health center because of this.
Planned Parenthood isn’t only about abortion, it’s about supporting communities and teaching young people to rise up for what they believe in. It is a symbolic fight for the freedom to choose what you can do with your own body.
What restricting this funding will do is force women, families and youth who need treatment or health care to either go into debt or avoid treatment altogether. Many families rely on Planned Parenthood and other nonprofit clinics who receive Title X funding. Taking it away would be a crime to the 2.4 million patients who rely on Planned Parenthood for their medical needs.